Entries Tagged 'Elections' ↓

Is the South Dakota State Legislature looking at limiting Municipal Referendums?

It has been brought to my attention that a small southeastern town city administrator is pushing to get a bill submitted (hasn’t been yet) taking municipal referendum and initiative signature requirements to 20 percent of registered voters from 5 percent. This will eliminate yet another safety net to keep city councils in line. That would change the required signatures in Sioux Falls to jump from around 6k to over 24K. Ironically it would take more signatures in Sioux Falls to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot then the amount of people who typically vote in a municipal election.

I often remind people that 1) we need to make the referendum process easier not harder and 2) and signing a petition doesn’t mean you approve of the initiative just your right to vote on it. For example, I signed the slaughterhouse petition even though I already knew I would vote against it. Direct Democracy is a beautiful thing and any opportunity we have to use it and promote it is good for the public.

Sioux Falls School Board election in May

I believe Cynthia Mickelson’s seat is the only one. Not sure if she will run again or not? This may be the last time they hold a stand alone school board election if the legislature makes some changes this year to terms and elections when it comes to school boards.

Who is running for the next mayor of Sioux Falls?

I know, I know, a little early, but you would be surprised how much chatter has been going on already about the next mayoral race. The below predictions are PURE speculation based on convos I have had with city government nerds;

• Mike Huether, the former mayor has been actively reaching out to potential supporters and it is highly likely he will run.

• Greg Jamison, Greg currently serves in the SD legislature, but I have a fishy feeling he would love another round with Mr. Huether.

• Christine Erickson, she is coming off a very successful campaign against the stinky folks, and she has the ego to take a stab at this.

• Alex Jensen, not sure what to think of this, but his name has been floated out there by TenHaken worshippers.

• Greg Neizert, not sure if he is interested, but it seems like the most logical next political step.

• Theresa Stehly, I doubt she will run, but I can almost guarantee if she does run she will be in the runoff.

I’m sure there will be a couple of other Zombies (SNARK!) entering the race, but I have a feeling we will see a very crowded and diverse group.

Sioux Falls School Board thinking about changing their elections

During the working session recently, the school board was considering how they are going to do elections and board member terms moving forward. They want to switch to 4 year terms for school board members (I think they are 3 years right now) and sync them with the city elections in the Spring. They looked at this as helping voter turnout. The other big droning argument in the room was ‘saving money’. It irritates me when a group of non-elected government workers and elected officials get giddy over saving money on elections. I’m all for being prudent when it comes to elections, and I think this will be a cost saving measure to do so, but to make it your main argument OVER voter turnout makes me wonder what this is really about?

Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary says Noem was naughty, AFTER the election

I was wondering if the club was going to say anything about Kristi lifting footage from Jamie Smith’s appearance, oh, but they are concerned;

Some members of the Downtown Rotary Club in Sioux Falls were not happy that Gov. Kristi Noem’s campaign pilfered video of a meeting the club had with Democratic governor candidate Jamie Smith.

In a note to club members, President Cindy Peterson acknowledged the discontent.

“Please know there has been extensive discussion on if, when, and how to respond,” Peterson wrote. “Downtown Rotary is a nonpartisan organization and prides itself on being a place where important conversations happen. Our club’s neutrality cannot be compromised by implying a side in what is a political debate.”

The ‘time’ to respond would have been immediately after the ad was posted. It does no good to slap people’s hands after they clobber their opponent in a statewide election. Kristi doesn’t give a sh!t!

“As we look forward, the board will discuss our current process and policy regarding meeting content and determine how our club regulates the rights to the footage and how it is used in the future,” Peterson wrote.

I certainly am NO expert, but they could have posted a disclaimer on the bottom of the video that says the Rotary requests permission to use their videos in political and non-political ads. They also can put a copyright on the videos. They can do very little about people who may share their videos on social media or blogs, but those are NOT campaign ads.

I think the Rotary knew what she did was ethically wrong, but since a large majority of members are Republicans and small business owners, there was no way in Hell they were going to slap her around before the election. What members of Rotary were upset? The two democrats and one independent that belong to the club?

Voter turnout continues to decline in Minnehaha County

I first saw this in the past city election and now with the failure of IM 27 that for some reason, Minnehaha County residents, mostly Sioux Falls, are not showing up to vote;

What the data does show, though, is a trend.

  • For whatever reason – likely, a complex variety of factors – the number of ballots cast in local midterm elections is increasing at a much slower rate than both the number of people registered to vote and the number of people coming to Sioux Falls in general.
  • Looking at turnout percentages, it also shows Lincoln County voters turnout at a higher rate than Minnehaha County voters and overall voters statewide.
  • Minnehaha County voters saw the steepest decline in turnout, dropping below the overall statewide turnout in the last decade.

I am not sure why more people are choosing to not vote in Sioux Falls, MC. I think the rhetoric over the past few years about your vote not counting is discouraging voters, we saw this with IM 27. I have no doubt in my mind that if it would have passed, the legislature would have gutted it to nothing, I think voters assumed that.

I have told people that if the county promoted more ways to absentee vote, the numbers would rise.

UPDATE: Did the Slaughterhouse’s confusing ballot language contribute to its failure?

UPDATE: I wanted to clarify something, I think that well over 90% of voters DID know what they were voting on, but there is always those stragglers that don’t research the ballot before they vote and make a decision in the ballot box without knowing the context. I do believe a small number of voters were confused. How do you go from polling 78% this summer to losing this fall? Before the opposition gained steam the only ads we were seeing were for vote YES, then suddenly every ad a month before the election were vote NO and vote YES, constantly, which added to the confusion. I was personally happy with the results.

Unless we are willing to make a concerted effort to close ALL packing plants in town, this really seemed like they were picking on Wholestone. I still think this ends up in court, but the biggest failure was our city council not acting on this in January or February. If we still had conditional use permitting, we could have required WF to follow a higher standard (especially when it comes to water and waste water). I’m a huge believer in the initiative and petition process, but only after all government solutions were exhausted, the city didn’t lift a finger and forced an expensive election that could have been avoided.

I knew the Rec MJ decision was going to be close, however it turned out, but it would be decisive. I can’t say that about the slaughterhouse vote. While I did vote ‘NO’ and fully agreed that if a developer or business follows the rules set in place when it comes to property and property rights they deserve to move forward. I also think there was a lot of games played along the way on both sides that would have made it hard to stop this development (including the inaction of the city council when it comes to zoning). Either way, this will still end up in court.

What I do scratch my head about is if the ballot language contributed to the confusing outcome? How is it that something can be polling 60-70% then fail on election day? Just look at polling for Medicare, Rec MJ and Noem, all polls were almost spot on (though Noem did do a lot better than expected).

Think about it. If someone tells you to vote ‘NO’ you would assume that means ‘NO’ to new slaughterhouses and a ‘YES’ vote means ‘YES’ to new slaughterhouses. Well guess what? It is vice versa.

I’m not even sure how you would clear this up, you would almost need to do an exit poll to see how people voted and how they felt. This is impossible at this point.

We may never know.

I did know who Kameron Nelson was, and that is why I voted for him. District 10 is the only place in the state where the magic happened (and District 15). I actually was let in on the ground game this summer of what Democratic District 10 candidates were doing to win that district, and they had a good game, the results don’t surprise me a bit. There was also a rumor swirling that John Mogen and Tom Sutton were personally recruited by Noem to be placeholders in District 10 so she could appoint someone if they won.

I live in an Oasis. Now where can I get some good black market weed? Asking for a friend 🙂

Speaking of the evil weed. I see the opposition’s game of ‘what about the children’ worked, and once again, Mayor TenHaken set a precedent, now influencing ballot measures and questions. I still have a glimmer of hope that peeps from the IM 27 campaign will file ethics and campaign rule complaints against those peddling lies about the measure.

Go Vote!

Keeping track of all the noise leading up until Tuesday’s election has been overwhelming, so I am going to just concentrate on the big ones with my predictions.

Some of the issues are easy to predict;

• Slaughterhouse ordinance will pass with 60-70% of the vote (this of course doesn’t really matter since it ultimately will be decided in court).

• Medicare expansion will pass with 55-65% of the vote (I think it is a pretty big no brainer when the Feds are supplying 90% of the funding – a tax pool we pay into – that it makes sense to take them up on the offer.

The next two issues are a little sticky;

• IM 27 will pass with 58% of the STATEWIDE vote. I believe that once again the urban areas will carry the measure. (I have felt for awhile that this race would be a wider margin of victory than originally predicted. With the failure of Amendment C in June it showed me that when it comes to personal freedoms being voted on in the ballot box, South Dakotans will vote to protect them. I think the anger and frustration over Amendment C and the kangaroo court that overturned the original constitutional measure, voters are coming back in full force to show the governor, the supreme court and the legislature that yes, we are adult enough to know what recreational MJ is, and we want it).

• Kristi Noem will be re-elected to another term by at least 55% of the vote. (Trust me, I would love to be wrong, and I encourage everyone to vote for Jamie Smith, but the stars don’t align. Besides name recognition and the lack of funding, Smith needed these 3 things to happen tomorrow to win;

  1. Almost all of SD registered Indies need to vote for Smith, and ALL dems need to vote for him.
  2. Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint needs to garner at least 3-4% of the Republican vote
  3. A large percentage of Republicans need to ‘undervote’ in the governor’s race (not place a vote at all for governor.)

Those stars will probably not align.

I really cannot say much about the local races except in my very own District 10, I encourage you to vote for Erin Healy and send MAGA Sutton and her placeholder husband Tom packing. I also encourage everyone to NOT fill out the judgeship portion of the ballot. There is NO choice, just a confirmation. I left it blank to protest our very broken judicial system in South Dakota.

It is supposed to be 43 degrees tomorrow at 7 AM and 53 degrees at 7 PM with light rain after 11 AM. A perfect day to spend 10 minutes voting.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Soehl sends out text to vote NO on Slaughterhouse ordinance

I still think this is too little too late and most voters have had their mind made up for months. But you also have to question a sitting councilor(s) sharing his opinion on a ballot measure. I remember when that backfired when councilors and the sitting mayor were against the Drake Springs outdoor pool vote.

I also laugh when people talk about WF not smelling. Oh, it will smell. I grew up on a hog farm. Hogs stink. Ironically though, we will never know if WF smells or not, since Smithfield’s stink will always be waffling in the air above and beyond anything coming from WF.

Wholestone, Video Lottery, Ticket fees and Data Harvesting

There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming election. One of the topics is Mayor TenHaken’s participation in the Anti IM 27 campaign and if it is it is legal. I have been warning people for years that PTH’s former job was being a political partisan marketing hack, and little has changed. He continues to ignore the ethics of being a politician while setting precedents when unchallenged. Paul not only is betting the farm on his input to the opponents but I also think he is doing this to harvest statewide voter data for an eventual run for Governor or Senator. It makes me laugh when Paul says he hates politics and doesn’t like being a politician, but he has done it his entire professional life and now is using PAC money from a PAC he runs to make a political stance. We will see how this plays out. I think the race is in a dead heat, but if Paul is successful in getting his SF mayoral supporters in line with his feelings on MJ he will set another precedent right in front of our faces. Even if IM 27 passes and foils his ambitions (he will still have secured the voter data), I still encourage members of the IM 27 campaign to file ethics violations against him for his political stunt as a sitting (lying) mayor.

Even if the Wholestone Slaughterhouse ordinance fails or passes (I think it will get between 70-80%) it will ultimately be decided in a court of law and NOT by voters. Why is this? For the same reason I voted NO. It is a poorly written measure that doesn’t address property rights and current zoning. Liking the concept or not doesn’t matter here, it is about law and city ordinances, and since the city council didn’t have the courage to do something about this in January here we are. Thousands of disenfranchised voters and a very nervous judge.

Speaking of the ordinance, council chair, Curt Soehl, decided it was a good idea to write a letter to the editor in support of the NO vote. I was told the entire council was advised to publicly keep quiet about the ordinance until after the election, Soehl obviously ignored them. Funny how this guy likes to tell councilors how to conduct themselves during meetings but does whatever he wants to on the side. Not just an authoritarian, but a hypocrite.

The Events Center Campus is a dump and always will be, that isn’t coming from me, that is straight from councilors yesterday at the informational meeting;

Neitzert called the proposal to spend more at the events center complex a “sunk-cost fallacy,” and unless the plan includes overhauling the entire neighborhood and creating a walkable road network, he doesn’t anticipate much success.

“We’ve been proven wrong twice,” he said. “It’s just a tough area. It just is.”

Maybe Greg learned something from his Bunker Ramp vote. The 3rd time isn’t always a charm.

Speaking of Greg, last night with the support of the mayor at the council meeting found ways to limit video lottery at a handful of casinos but did argue that it will take some stronger ordinance changes in the near future to affect change. I can guarantee lobbyists for the VL industry in SD are already nagging lawmakers to make changes to state law so they can have these mega casinos that hand out free beer. Like Wholestone, this will also be decided by a court, and also like Wholestone the City Council acted too little and too late. The city council should have been working on this for the past two decades.

A few weeks ago I addressed the city council about having a $5 dollar bond payment ticket fee at the Denty to help pay down the mortgage. This week they turned around and gave a ticket fee to the general fund of the Sports Authority for ‘Marketing’ with NO oversight. Of course this is the same city council that continues to subsidize the operations of the Pavilion while spending millions on building repairs while the Pavilion sits on a $5 million dollar savings fund. Yet some how the city may have to scrounge the money together for an additional warming shelter this winter.

The screenshot below is from the last Audit Committee meeting Councilor Jensen chaired. It was so nice of the taxpayers of Sioux Falls to fund City of Sioux Falls logo wear for councilors (instead of a simple $10 lapel nametag magnet) so that when they actually show up to a live streamed public meeting they could be promoting their Dr. Oz and Alex Jones vitamins. #justrolledoutofbed